All in the Family…

I was genuinely, wonderfully surprised tonight. In so many ways. It was nice. My family had a (8-days-after) Birthday Party for me. Mom made Italian Shells (delicious!) and there was birthday cookie cake w/ ice cream. I gave them some presents I’d gotten for them in Toronto. And then it came time for my presents, an experience I’ve come to face with assumed disappointment. I gave my mother a list, assuming that none of them would be unwrapped by me. It was, honestly, a list of things I’d decided to postpone buying until after I got back from vacation, or else had been looking for for weeks without success.

So I unwrap, and there they are. The Office: Season Four – easy to find, just hadn’t bought. Next one: Wall-E action figures of Wall-E and Eve. I had looked for these things EVERYWHERE and had no luck. Had been in the Disney Store at least 5 times, in various cities (including Toronto). Now the two join Clyde Drexler, Alan Rickman (as the Sheriff of Nottingham), NEO, and Jack Sparrow on the wall above my computer. And I am happy. Finally: Rushmore, Criterion Collection – once again, UNFINDABLE by my searches, I had even discussed its rareness with a fellow movie-fan. My parents found ONE SINGLE copy at a movie store and snatched it up. That they even went looking for it was amazing.

More surprises: At my parents wish, we watched “Dan in Real Life,” which got decent reviews, and has Steve Carell, so what the heck. Delightful. Not a brilliant, life-altering movie, but a movie that feels like a warm blanket in a mid-October rainstorm, when it’s good and pouring. It’s about family, and populates its movie not with overblown types, but a truly organic feeling mix of people. It is so relaxed, you feel like you’re watching a real reunion. One you could rewatch and rewatch. A movie that inspires not rapture but eternal fondness. 

Now the good stuff: It was like my family decided to be the best versions of themselves this night. Dad left his awkward comments in his other jacket, and decided to join in the conversation. Mom told engaging stories about helping people at work, and asked great questions about Toronto. Both were eager to actually discuss the movie afterwards. Older Brother, heretofore known to equate an opinion with a shrug of universal indifference explained what his favorite type of movie was…and why (and though it is miles away from me, I was too taken aback to mind much). Younger Sister ended the night quoting from Fahrenheit 451, a quote I happened to love as well. She retrieved the book, we thumbed through it together, and then read a selection for my mother. 

These are small things, but for someone who must admit that he is often ready to leave about 30 minutes after walking in the door, this is one of the best nights at home I’ve had in about a year or two. 

Final miracle: My mother had been trying to get me a ticket to see This American Life host Ira Glass in St. Louis, going so far as trying to reserve me a $120 seat+party afterwards. And here’s the thing. She didn’t get me a ticket (which is for the best, as I likely won’t be in the state at the time), but her effort did inspire her to go online and listen to the show…which she really enjoyed. A better gift, I cannot imagine.

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